Social Determinants of Health: What’s a Healthcare System to Do?

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A person’s overall health and well-being are influenced by a wide range of factors. Age, genetics, lifestyle, and physical environment are some reasons a person can be healthy or unhealthy. Apart from these, one more set of factors, called the social determinants of health, also has a significant impact on well-being. 

According to the World Health Organization, social determinants of health (SDH) belong to non-medical influences on human health, including the level of income, education, food security, employment, and housing. The social environment where a person lives, grows, works, and stays can have a positive or negative effect on health, leading to health inequities. 

People living in poor social environments tend to lack resources that could help them improve their health and prevailing social conditions.

What does a healthcare system have to do with SDH? Web developers and digital advertisers of healthcare systems can help pave the way for health equity by promoting the medical industry online. Through effective digital marketing strategy, healthcare marketing agency can lead healthcare providers to patients who need and are searching for medical attention. 

Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health are social, economic, and physical factors that influence the overall health and well-being of a person. Listed below are some examples of SDH:

  • Food insecurity
  • Household income
  • Literacy and access to education
  • Unemployment, working conditions, and job insecurity
  • Access to quality and affordable health services 
  • Housing, basic amenities and the environment
  • Childhood development and rearing conditions
  • Social inclusion, support networks, and community

Although these influences may not directly cause illnesses and medical conditions, they affect a person’s access to decent healthcare. SDH creates health inequities that make it much more difficult for people with lower socioeconomic positions to achieve better health. Thus, social determinants of health have a vital role in patient care. 

Social Determinants of Health in the Digital Age

As more and more businesses and service providers take their ventures online, so do social determinants of health. Digital inclusion is now considered an SDH in the digital age.

A number of medical and healthcare providers promote their services online. This allows them to reach their patients and target individuals more efficiently. Besides, digital health apps and tools help in patient care through health trackers, databases, and monitoring devices. 

Accordingly, the medical agency or company can provide better care, response, and support and produce better outcomes. 

However, those who don’t have adequate resources and knowledge about digital tools may not receive the same level of care as those who do. In particular, people who are not digitally literate and who lack access to an internet connection are at risk. Digital illiteracy and lack of internet connectivity are social determinants of health that further widens the gap of health inequities. 

The Role of Healthcare Systems

Healthcare systems are becoming highly interconnected because different medical service providers go digital. Indeed, sufficient and accurate data on patients’ health combined with modern technologies can go a long way in solving healthcare deficiencies. 

However, millions of people remain untreated and uncared for whenever they seek medical attention. Social determinants of health present reasons for this lack of access to healthcare. 

Healthcare systems must consider looking into social determinants of health, apart from the usual clinical and medical factors. SDH impacts the quality, accessibility, and availability of health tools and apps for patients from different social classes. Medical care systems can start by conducting surveys and creating profiles that show the demographics of individuals. 

Then, they can utilise the data collected to determine patients who are less likely to have access to vital health services. 

Purpose-built Healthcare System

Healthcare systems must embrace the data on social determinants of health and patient insights. This information helps make exceptional healthcare solutions and services that are purpose-built for victims of health inequity. 

Social determinants of health are barriers that prevent consumers and patients from having access to quality healthcare. Identifying these barriers is critical in addressing the issues posed by the like. 

At the same time, the insights and inputs of patients and consumers are also vital to creating a purpose-built healthcare system. Providers will not know what their constituents truly need if they do not communicate with the latter. They must obtain patient insights in order to know which SDH and medical needs must be prioritised. 

Thus, an effective healthcare system begins with SDH and patient data. An understanding of the factors and conditions of the population will allow developers to align their medical care system to consumer needs better. It also paves the way for better and broader medical care networks that aim for nothing but improved medical care. More interconnectedness in the healthcare system means improved clinical results for patients and consumers. 

Partnership with Community

Another thing a healthcare system must possess is to effectively address social determinants of health in partnership with the community. Solving barriers such as food insecurity, illiteracy, and poor working conditions, require the collective efforts of the provider and the various sectors of the population. In other words, as a healthcare system developer, you must explore avenues for multi-sectoral partnerships within your community.

Everyone must be in on the plan of providing improved healthcare access to everyone, including schools, workplaces, business and commercial sectors, and more. These sectors should have a united goal of bridging the divide caused by social determinants of health.

SDH and Healthcare Marketing

Given the role of healthcare systems in closing the health inequity gap, it is also important to understand the essential role that healthcare marketing plays. Healthcare advertising agencies can make your digital content, application, or system more inclusive and accessible. 

The goal of healthcare marketing is to promote your product, service, or brand to your target audience. When done effectively, the digital marketing strategies of healthcare systems can reach a broader audience, especially patients at-risk of negative SDH. 

While expanding target market reach, healthcare marketing agencies are also increasing people’s access to medical services and solutions. Thus, healthcare marketing is crucial in addressing the social determinants of health and promoting health equity.





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